G Philly’s Top 10 Stories of 2017
From a new pride flag to some controversial resignations, we rank the biggest LGBTQ stories of the year.
It was an incredible year for LGBTQ news in Philadelphia, with both inspirational times and some very controversial moments. Here, we rank the top 10 stories that rocked the community in 2017.
The community wasn’t too pleased to find out that a former employee at South Philly’s Function Coffee Labs claims they were terminated after making complaints about harassment on the job from a “transphobic” customer who frequented the shop.
When the controversial reality television star announced she would be hosting a meet-and-greet at Valanni during the holidays, the Gayborhood had mixed reactions. The reason? She’s a known Trump supporter who has defended the anti-LGBTQ president.
Queer performers were stunned to find out that Tabu Lounge and Bar announced that it was parting ways with well-known Gayborhood events producer Josh Schonewolf. When speculation arose on social media that the split had been sparked by his allegedly poor performer payment practices, Schonewolf came clean about the whole ordeal.
The national #MeToo movement rocked the Gayborhood as burlesque performer Sharp Robert, producer of the highly publicized The Bare and The Bold showcases, announced that he would be stepping away from the scene to “continue to try to improve” after apologizing for “any actions or words I have used that caused harm to others.” This came days after being accused of groping a fellow female burlesque performer in late October 2016.
It’s been more than three years since Zachary Hesse and Andrew Haught were attacked at 16th and Chancellor streets in a case that became known as the “Center City gay-bashing.” But fortunately the two men have finally settled a civil lawsuit they filed against three attackers, who faced criminal charges over the incident.
The transgender activist made history as the first openly trans person to head a citywide commission, then was ousted by fellow commission members after several heated incidents on social media.
Will it be community advocate Alex Deering or Hillary superfan Malcolm Kenyatta for the 181st District? Either way, history will be made as both openly gay black men could become the first of their respective community to become state representative in Pennsylvania.
After a year of racial slurs, boycotts, and dress codes, the infamous Gayborhood bar made matters worse with what appeared to be a late, tone-deaf apology video from its owner and a partnership with black nonprofits that seemed more disingenuous than helpful.
City government finally listened to the demands of activists, community members, and the press as they finally got serious about Gayborhood racism. The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations confirmed decades-long suspicions of racial discrimination in Gayborhood bars and enforced mandatory sensitivity training. Amber Hikes replaced Nellie Fitzpatrick as the Office of LGBT Affairs director, and a new commission on LGBT affairs was born. Black and brown stripes got added to the city’s pride flag, and a new bill that issues tougher sanctions for discrimination was passed unanimously. Years of activism, notably from the Black and Brown Workers Collective, helped get this done in a year.
In 2017 alone, Mazzoni lost its executive director, medical director, and most of its board after the staff revolted over concerns of misconduct. It was an impressive feat led by front-line staff who put their jobs on the line as they mobilized with the Black and Brown Workers Collective to walk out of staff meetings to make their voices heard. They would continue such victories after a failed alt-right union-busting attempt gave them the momentum to formally unionize.
So as we ring in the new year, we’re left with several questions: What will be the fate of the Gayborhood nonprofit scene? What can else can we expect from the city on its journey to becoming more intersectional? How will the LGBTQ community be affected by the #MeToo movement?
Only time will tell. Stay tuned for answers to these questions and more right here at G Philly.